14 Things You Need to Know About Flying with Your Dog

Flying can be stressful. Flying with your dog can add to the stress. Owners of dogs that are shorter than 11 inches and weigh less than 15 pounds can take solace—small dogs can often fly in the cabin as carry-on luggage. But if your dog is larger, it will have to travel in the cargo bay. This can be very stressful for owner and dog alike.

Whether your dog can join you in the cabin or must travel in cargo, here 14 tips curated from around the Web to make flying with your dog easier.

  1. The first thing you should do is look up your airline’s pet requirements. Most domestic U.S. airlines accommodate pets, but not all.
  2. The second thing you should do is watch this short video from United Airlines PetSafe® program. It has a lot of helpful information.
  3. Fly direct if possible, because transferring flights adds to the stress of flying.
  4. Make sure your dog’s crate meets safety requirements.
  5. Get a health certificate from your vet. Even if your airline doesn’t require one, it’s better to be safe than sorry. In fact, an unhealthy dog shouldn’t travel at all!
  6. If your dog is particularly high strung you may have already discovered calming methods or aids that are effective. Also consider speaking with your vet for best ways to make sure an anxious pet is kept safe.
  7. Line your dog’s crate with an absorbent crate pad — because accidents can happen for even well-trained dogs, particularly when they feel stressed.
  8. On the day of the flight, take your dog on long walk. A tired dog is a more relaxed dog.
  9. Don’t feed your dog on the morning of the trip. Also, be sure to remove his water bowl two hours prior to departure. This sounds cruel, but a normal, healthy dog will be fine. If a dog does have an accident, at least there won’t be as much mess to clean up.
  10. Pack extra blankets for your dog in case she gets cold.
  11. Include a couple articles of your unwashed clothes in the crate. Your familiar scent will help keep your dog at ease.
  12. If your dog is not used to being crated, start crate training far enough before the trip to get him used to being in a crate.
  13. Pack your dog’s favorite toys.
  14. Now that you have a good idea of how to prepare your dog—and yourself—for an airplane flight, create your own comprehensive pre-flight checklist.